Mexico: Murders are up, drug seizures are down

Following four days of excavation in which heavy equipment was used, three more bodies were found at La Cumbre, an area in Zapopan – a suburb of Guadalajara, in south central Mexico. The December 6 discovery came just days after at least 14 other bodies were found in a clandestine grave site in the state of Jalisco, one of the territories of Mexico most hotly contested by various narcoterrorist organizations. More bodies are expected.
 
This was not the only grim discovery in Jalisco during the week of December 1-7. In La Barca, a small town approximately 20 minutes by automobile from the state capital, at least 67 bodies have been found in 35 clandestine burials near the state line shared with Michoacán. However, local media predict that the toll will rise to 100 or more.
 
In 2013, violence has escalated in various parts of Mexico that have shocked a public otherwise numb to reports of rape, mutilations, torture, and mass killings. In August, for example, video emerged of the killing and beheading by operators working for the Gulf Cartel of four persons (one of whom was a woman) who belonged to Los Zetas – a narcoterrorist organization that was once the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel. Los Zetas can give as good as they got by beheading four women belonging to the Gulf Cartel. Similar incidents include the videotaped torture and murder of two Zetas who were flayed alive and then beheaded. In another case, a video showed the murder of a 14-year-old boy who confessed to being a member of a rival gang.  On December 5, in the southern state of Chiapas, the four members of a Guatemalan family were found shot to death. Among the murdered was a two-year-old boy.
 
Some of the videos depict forced confessions of alleged members of narcoterrorist organizations. In one video, a blindfolded young man who went by the name ‘Shadow’ confessed to decapitating two members of the Sinaloa Cartel at the behest of Los Zetas. Saying that he covered a route that extended from the states of Durango to Tamaulipas in northern Mexico, he said that he participated in abducting 50 children. These, he said, were sold to intermediaries for the purpose of extracting their vital organs.  The video was released by the Gulf Cartel, which released a warning with the video.  The man in the video showed obvious signs of abuse and bore a placard on his chest that read “This is for you to see that the Gulf Cartel does not kill innocent children as do Los Zetas…This is how they will wind up while they continue to send a**holes like this one just to see them killed. To the attention of the Gulf Cartel: we are cleaning things up in Tampico, Madero and Altamira.  The fate of the man in the video was not clear.
 
 
(Forensic team loads bodies onto truck in Jalisco)
 
The murder of a prominent labor leader in the state of Guerrero has been linked to narcoterrorists. Fernando Vásquez Bustos was killed by a hail of gunfire at approximately 8:30 AM on December 7. The murder happened in a suburb of Acapulco, a traditional vacation spot on the Pacific seashore. 
 
Despite armed confrontation between Mexico’s security forces and the various criminal organizations, the actual amount of cocaine seized by authorities is quite small. According to Mexico’s Secretariat of Defense, so far only 2.5 metric tons of cocaine have been seized so far in 2013 by Mexico’s military. This is a slight increase over 2012, when Mexican authorities managed to seize 2.1 metric tons. Seizures of marijuana have also dropped in 2012. Between January and November 2012, Mexican armed forces seized 1.1 metric tons of weed, while during the same period in 2013, they seized 624 kilos.
 
The above figures do not include seizures made by the various federal, state and local police authorities in Mexico. Mexico’s National Security Commission declared that as of the beginning of December 2013, federal police had seized almost 1.6 metric tons of cocaine during the first year of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. This represented an increase of 376 percent over 2012. As for marijuana, police seizures went from 35 metric tons in 2012 to 82 tons this year. 
 
The number of people arrested for drug-related crimes dropped by a third in 2013, as compared to 2012. In 2012, the figure stood at 9,586 while this year the dragnet caught 6,997. The number of Mexicans killed since 2006 in the ongoing drug war is set to surpass 60,000. By way of comparison, 58,285 Americans died in the 20 years of the Vietnam conflict.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

Filed under crime, mexico, guatemala, narcoterrorism, us, crime, Americas

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